Trash talk

By JAMES PARKER  |  November 7, 2007

These days you can go online and find out just how bad you are: a site called, for example, recently informed me that, if everybody lived like I lived, we would need 5.1 Earths. Then again, the Hubble telescope, poking like a knitting needle into the sac of space, has revealed that there are 80 billion galaxies swarming around out there — 13 galaxies for each of us, more or less. In that context, my need for 5.1 Earths seems modest, even abstemious. I think I’d keep the first Earth as my private Earth — a place to take naps and long walks with my iPod. The other four would be social/professional, and then that last .1 of an Earth would be where I kept my socks and underpants.

There’s a commercial out there now for some monster vehicle or other — shots of a desert, or a mountain range, and a plunging SUV, and a meaty baritone voice shouting, “In a world where POWER and TORQUE are KING . . . ” Whoever wrote that is a genius. Crude thrones are lording it over us: power and torque are the kings of our world, and they are driving it to destruction. Gestures of insane grandeur may be required in the fight against them, bold and violent statements — to these necessities, meekly seeking to minimize one’s carbon footprint doesn’t quite seem to answer. But, as the amoeba said to his girlfriend, it’s a start.

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